“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23 RSV

Christmas is over—really, truly over. Last week, I packed the much-loved decorations back in their boxes, hauled them down to the cellar, stacked them away. I’ve done this every year for over 50 years but it never gets easier. Or more fun.

Someone wrote that taking down Christmas is like saying good-bye to a beloved old friend.

When I allow my soul to wail like a kid after a birthday party, I lose sight of God’s Christmas gift, the one all this celebration is about, the gift given for today, tomorrow and all eternity:

Jesus: God with us.

In the person of Jesus,

God: the master and creator of the mind-blowing universe, the One Who names the innumerable stars (Isaiah 40:25), Who is so beyond understanding that He identified Himself to Moses as “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 2:14)…

decided to dwell among and with

Us, His frail and struggling beings on a tiny planet in the far corner of His vast creation. With you. With me.

To reconcile us to Himself. To show us the Way. To give us eternal life.

It’s called the Incarnation.

Max Lucado, in his wonderful book, “Unshakable Hope,” sums it up like this: “The star maker, for a time, built cabinets in Nazareth.”

Wow. Selah. (Pause and think carefully about that.)

Why did God do it? Out of love—incomprehensible, unfathomable love. But in order to lead us, He had to become one of us.

Listen to Lucado again: “Had Jesus simply descended to earth in the form of a mighty being, we would respect him but never draw near to him. After all, how could God understand what it means to be human?

Had Jesus been biologically conceived with two earthly parents, we would draw near to him, but would we want to worship him? After all, he would be no different than you and me.

…So human he could touch his people. So mighty he could heal them. So human he spoke with an accent. So heavenly he spoke with authority. …All man. Yet all God.”

Adjectives fail before the wonder. And, what’s more wonderful yet: the Incarnation is as true now as it was in that manger long years ago, as true this morning as it was on a tender candle-lit Christmas Eve, surrounded by friends and family.

God with us: the one Christmas gift we can’t lose, break or box away. The one that shines bright—forever.

FATHER GOD: You love me. You are with me. Right now. Right here. Amazing. But true. Amen.

To be published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle, January 20, 2019.